Iridium launches Certus – ‘world’s first global broadband service’

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Company says platform offers first new capability from $3bn satellite replacement programme.

Certus is designed to offer on-the-move internet and high-quality voice access for teams working in remote places on land and at sea, and two-way remote communications for IoT applications such as tracking assets, autonomous vehicles, trains, aircraft and ships at sea, covering the Earth’s surface that is beyond the reach of cellular networks, that is, more than 80% of it.

Initially Certus service is dedicated to maritime and terrestrial applications, with aviation solutions to be added later in the year after certification.

Global service providers

Services are offered to end-users through 36 service providers around the world. Customers can choose different classes of service and terminals from a variety of manufactures, with entry level Certus 350 providing speeds up to 352 Kbps in both directions.

Iridium claims that services will be robust and reliable as they run in L-band. This operates in the 1–2 GHz radio spectrum, which is one of the main wavelengths used for applications such as radar, GPS, radio, telecoms and aircraft surveillance the world over.

Iridium’s CEO, Matt Desch, commented, "The debut of Iridium Certus is the start of a new chapter…that is set to catapult us and our partners forward…. Adoption of this new service by our partners has already begun.”

Game changer for shipping

Briese Schiffahrts in Germany, is using the new service. Its spokesperson, Holger Börchers, said, “Iridium Certus is delivering real-time connections everywhere our vessels go. As a result, shipboard communications, vessel performance systems and the crew themselves are never out of contact…Iridium Certus is a game-changer for us.”

Iridium estimates the L-band specialty broadband market size to be worth about $700 million, but has issued guidance suggesting revenues from Iridium Certus will reach about $100 million a year by the end of 2021.